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A renowned educator, a notable state representative and a distinguished public servant to receive FMU honorary degrees, Dec. 19


FLORENCE – An educator, state representative and public servant will be awarded honorary degrees from Francis Marion University during fall commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 19, in the Smith University Center gymnasium. 

Selected to receive honorary doctoral degrees are S.C. Rep. James Alfred Battle Jr. of Nichols, Mary Alice Burgan of Washington, D.C., and Robert Weston Patterson of Florence. 

Burgan will also be the commencement speaker for the 289 candidates for FMU degrees. Candidates include 235 students for undergraduate degrees and 54 for graduate diplomas. 

A native of Charleston, W.Va., Burgan recently retired from her post as general secretary of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the leading national association of higher education faculty. Prior to her 10 years as head of the AAUP, Burgan was a professor of English, chair of the English department, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and chair of the University Faculty Council at Indiana University for nearly 30 years. 

Burgan received a bachelor’s degree from Seton Hill College in Pennsylvania, where she graduated magna cum laude. She completed her graduate education at the University of Illinois, Urbana, where she earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. 

Burgan’s scholarly writing encompasses broad areas, including nineteenth-century English and American literature, children's literature, women in literature, and nineteenth-century social history. Her book, Illness, Gender, and Writing: The Case of Katherine Mansfield, was published by the Johns Hopkins University Press in the fall of 1994. She has served on the editorial board of Victorian Studies, and as a referee for numerous university presses and prestigious journals. 

Burgan was a member of the faculty of the Lilly Endowment Workshop on the Liberal Arts for seven years, was twice elected to the delegate assembly of the Modern Language Association, sat on the executive committee of the Association of Departments of English, and served a one-year term as a member of the board of directors of the American Council on Education. Her awards include a Danforth Associateship, Indiana University's Distinguished Service Award, and an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Marquette University.

She and her husband William have two children: Margaret Ash of California and Harry Burgan of Illinois. 

Battle, a merchant and farmer, was born in Mullins. He represents the 57th District in the S.C. Legislature, which is comprised of Marion County. He received his bachelor’s degree from the Citadel and an M.B.A. from the University of South Carolina. 

As a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, he serves on the Ways and Means Committee. He has also served on the House Education Funding Act Study Committee and the S.C. Workforce and Affordable Housing Caucus. At FMU, Battle has served on the School of Business Advisory Board, helping to refine the curriculum and prepare students to meet the challenges of a changing workplace. 

His accomplishments have been recognized by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the S.C. Association of School Administration, the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, the Mullins Activation Committee, and the S.C. Chamber of Commerce. 

Battle also served as a 1st Lt. in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He and his wife Katherine have one child, Elizabeth. 

Patterson is a native of Columbia. While attending Clemson University, he was called to serve in the Army during the Second World War. He was a crewmember aboard a B-24 Liberator in the Pacific theater.  

Since living in Florence, Patterson has served 16 years on Florence City Council, as chair of the City-County Airport Commission and vice president of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce. He was also a member of the Florence Housing Authority.

Patterson founded the Florence Speech and Hearing Clinic and served as founding director of the Florence United Way, director of the South Carolina Easter Seal Society and chair of the Florence County Disabilities Foundation. He also served as director of the Francis Marion University Foundation. 

He and his wife Emily have four children: Harry, Pat, Allie and Emily, all of Florence. 

# 54/ 12-11-09

Last Published: December 22, 2009 8:49 AM
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